Children are at a higher risk of obesity because they don’t get enough sleep, says study

Experts have warned that a third of primary school children are being put at risk of obesity due to the fact that they aren’t getting enough sleep.

By Rhona Shennan
Monday, 10th June 2019, 4:07 pm
How many hours a child gets of sleep, as well as the quality of that sleep, can lead them to becoming obese later in life (Photo: Shutterstock)
How many hours a child gets of sleep, as well as the quality of that sleep, can lead them to becoming obese later in life (Photo: Shutterstock)

A study conducted by the British Nutrition Foundation (BNF) revealed some eye opening figures about the sleep habits of children.

How much sleep are children getting?

The study by BNF saw them polling primary school children and secondary school students about their sleeping patterns.

Sign up to our daily newsletter

It found that 32 per cent of primary school kids and a huge 70 per cent of secondary school children don’t manage to get nine hours of sleep a night, which is the minimum end of the recommended amount.

It also found that 43 per cent of adults aren’t getting the recommended amount of sleep either.

The survey collected data from other 6,000 school children, primary and secondary, and just over 1,500 adults.

Link between sleep and obesity?

Senior scientist at the BNF, Dr Lucy Chambers, said, “The implications of a bad night’s sleep can go much further than feeling tired.

“Lack of and disturbed sleep can lead to both adults and young people feeling grumpy and irritable, regular poor-quality sleep can have a negative impact on dietary choices, including higher intakes of calories and more frequent snacking on less healthy foods.”

The BNF research also found that 50 per cent of secondary school students woke up at least once during the night prior to the poll being conducted.

In 2018, researchers at the University of Warwick also found that children and adolescents who get less sleep than their peers are more likely to become overweight or obese.

Chambers said, “The BNF's Task Force report, published earlier this year, highlighted that lack of sleep, and interrupted sleep, may be linked to an increased risk of heart disease, stroke, Type 2 diabetes, obesity, and hypertension.”

Health consequences of being overweight

According to the NHS, there are a variety of health issues that could be triggered by being overweight.

The NHS states that some of these issues could be:

- Type 2 diabetes

- Coronary heart disease

- Types of cancer, such as breast cancer or bowel cancer

- Stroke

The NHS also warns that it’s not just physical issues that obesity can cause, as it says it can “also affect your quality of life and lead to psychological problems” including depression and lower self esteem.